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Tenacious Z and the Dream Greenhouse

Tuesday, December 19, 2023


  It's been awhile since I updated you. The good news is the plants are all in place and thriving. The not so good news is that I haven't been able to hang out with them, because, well, there are problems. The greenhouse structure was finished at Halloween. Here we are and it’s almost Christmas and it’s taken this long for me to figure out why my ventless gas heater wouldn’t stay on, and also that it was woefully underpowered for this space. It's taken me this long to select and take delivery of the right heater for the job. A few nights in the teens proved that I had to get something bigger. I had to borrow an electric heater from Shila to keep it above 55 in there. Gawrsh. 

This, of course, is primarily because I have to have all four windows cracked a little open to admit enough fresh air in for combustion. The solarium is THAT tight. Tight as a drum. So on cold days and nights there is a constant frigid draft. Between the pervasive gas smell and the draft, I haven't been comfortable spending much leisure time in there. The plants are fine, staying warm enough and growing beautifully. But it’s not yet safe Zick habitat. I keep the sliding glass door to my bedroom shut all the time, unless it's warm enough outdoors to turn the heat off. 

I had a consultation with Wilson Heating. What a relief to have HVAC professionals step into the space and assess it from the perspective of their years of experience. Don and Austin Wilson proposed that I obtain an Empire wall furnace, powered by natural gas, with 35,000 BTU capability. But the single most important thing is that this heater has what’s called a concentric vent. Fresh air flows in from outside, and exhaust goes out in another pipe nestled in the same vent. It’s like a cloaca for the heater. And it’s exactly what I’ve been needing. Oh, to be able to close those dratted windows for once, and have this space heated like any snug room! Oh, to be free of the ridiculous condensation that runs down the glass--a byproduct of  the oxygen-starved ventless heater! And we’re so close!

As my long-awaited wall furnace arrives, Curtis shows exactly how much he is worth as a watchdog in this clip. Which is Nothing. Worthless.

On Friday, when the heater was finally delivered, this huge semi truck came up the driveway bearing the heater which weighs well over 100 lb. And right behind the truck, totally by chance, came Bob McCollister, from American Glass and Metalworks, here on a separate mission to fix a leaky door. What are the chances that two people in huge trucks would arrive at the same moment? 

Then the problem was: How were we going to get that huge heavy heater down to the greenhouse? My dolly would be useless. The driver had an electric forklift but could its tiny iron wheels travel over the gooshy mud of my beat up lawn? We had to try. The driver pulled and I pushed and the forklift hummed. When it got bogged down I pushed harder. And against all odds we got it to the greenhouse door! But it needed to be carried in. Enter Bob. The two men hoisted it inside. I was sooo grateful. My lower back has been in spasm for awhile and too much lifting is why. Two angels got it done. I don’t know what Providence sent them at the same moment but it was so lucky for me. Two Man Lift:

On Saturday, Jeff Cline came over to bore a 9” hole in the beautiful wall he’d built. It was hard to watch, but you’ve got to squeeze some lemons if you’re going to get lemonade! I played assistant, keeping a steady stream of water on the masonry blade to keep the dust down. It was a mess, but not as bad as it could have been. 


The heater came with a template to help Jeff make sure he would be drilling the hole in exactly the right spot. There's no room for error when you're talking rigid pipe, a 130 lb. heating unit, and solid concrete.

We measured five times and cut once. My dad taught me that.

Jeff Drills a Hole

This felt like a scene from The Great Escape, except I think they used spoons and knives to break through the wall.  Breakthrough! 

And now the heater sits, unpacked and ready, in the middle of the space. I so hope it can be up and running for Christmas. I understand that everyone is slammed, especially heating contractors, and it's getting on Christmas. I'm prepared to wait, but I'd love not to have to! My friend Carin L. suggested I go by the nickname "Tenacious Z." I loved that! and oh, how I love Tenacious D, Jack Black's duo with Kyle Gass. It fits. Whatever it takes to get The Greatest Greenhouse in the History of the World, I'll do it! 


It's an Honor to Be Here

Sunday, December 17, 2023


 Last summer, I was invited to submit pieces for consideration for a show of natural history art by Ohioans
to be held at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster. Although I very rarely show my work any more, I was more than happy to get together some favorites, old and new, to submit. To my surprise, all five were selected for the show by curators Maria Burke and Madeline Beaumier. Maria herself is a sculptor and exhibit preparer, and the artistry both curators brought to the exhibit was evident everywhere.

photo by Jessica Vaughan

I think it only sank in on me what an honor it was to be there when I walked in at the opening September 29 and saw the company my bird paintings were keeping. Such a big, beautiful, huge-hearted show! 

Artists were coming at natural history subjects from all directions and media: photography, painting and sculpture; interpretive and photorealistic. 

                                                 photo giclee of OSU specimens by Ardine Nelson

I met my friend and soon-to-be BWD cover artist Ann Geise, and was delighted to find our works displayed together. Two of Ann's lepidopteran works  hang above my white-breasted nuthatch developmental painting, which has neither been shown nor published before.

BWD Magazine Editor Jessica Vaughan and I perused the exhibit together. What a treat to see such talent coming our of our beloved home state!

The Decorative Arts Center of Ohio is a beautiful destination nestled in Lancaster's historic district.
You won't want to miss this beautifully curated and conceived show of Ohio artists, each interpreting nature in their own way. 

To top it off, DACO engaged John Luchin of Classic Interactions, Inc. to create a video of each artist's personal statement and vision. We artists sent him our images, videos and recorded narrative tracts, and John produced and tied them all together beautifully. The videos can be accessed on iPads stationed in each room of the show. Here's mine:

Here's what you need to know, but you'll have to get there before December ends! Show closes Dec. 31.

As I drove home from the opening, I felt very lucky to have been included in this review of some of Ohio's finest natural history artists. 

A full moon rose over Main Street as I drove home, feeling honored and thankful.


Zickefoose Holiday Cards are Here!

Saturday, December 2, 2023


 UPDATE: I am SOLD OUT of these cards. Thank you, everyone, for your support! Happy Holidays! 

Well, I just ate my last plate of Thanksgiving leftovers yesterday. Eew. But they went down OK. It reminded me that it's time to think about the coming season and get these festive holiday cards up in front of my lovely blog readers. They've sold like hotcakes on Facebook and Instagram, but I have yet to offer them here. And now, from the Department of Shameless Commerce:

ZICKEFOOSE Holiday Cards are here, and they're gorgeous! They can be yours--just click the links below!

I'm delighted with these cards--the stock is heavy and has a lovely finish--really a pleasure to write on. The four designs are my four favorite winter paintings, two whimsical and two just peaceful and pretty, a good mix, I thought, for anyone on your list. 


Cards are a big 5 x 7" and feature four designs: American flamingo, rufous hummingbird, eastern bluebird, and cedar waxwing. The cover is eggshell gloss, and the inside writing surface is blank--no message, matte finish and perfect for pen or pencil. $25 per pack, with envelopes.
I ship these in a flat envelope, via USPS ground. I can ship up to three packs for the same ten bucks: bulk savings.
1 set 16 cards, $25 + 10 S&H
2 sets 32 cards, $50 + 10 S&H
3 sets 48 cards, $75 + 10 S&H

Here's wishing you all the happiest of holidays!
And as always, thank you for your support.
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